Joy Ingram, an associate professor at Pellissippi State Community College, says she has worked with 20-year-olds who, in her medical opinion, have the body of an 80-year-old. Ingram teaches history. She is also a registered nurse.
Ingram is referring to some of the victims of the January 2010 Haiti earthquake whom she assisted on a May 2011 medical mission trip. A 28-year employee of Pellissippi State, she shares her relief-work experiences in a free presentation at the college, “Haiti After the Quake: A Personal Journey,” on Nov. 10.
Beyond teaching, Ingram also works part time as a registered nurse at Parkwest Medical Center. A fellow nurse there told her about Heart to Heart International, a nonprofit organization that works to improve global health.
Heart to Heart sent medical volunteers to the Caribbean country after the earthquake and continues to offer assistance to Haitians, approximately 1.5 million of whom still live in tent cities nearly two years after the natural disaster. Ingram’s May trip involved spending one week in the Port-au-Prince area, where she helped treat approximately 40 patients each day.
“One of the most striking things is that many of the people are aged beyond their years,” she said. “We saw young people with medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar and ulcers. Some had nearly stroke-level blood pressure readings. You expect to see this more in elderly patients, not in 20-year-olds.”
The living conditions also struck her. She says that Haitians are still living not only in tents but also in condemned buildings. There was no electricity in the area she and the Heart to Heart team were serving, so they could not give refrigerated insulin to patients who needed it.
Ingram and the other three nurses who worked in the mobile clinic treated patients ranging from babies to the elderly. The team traveled to remote rural and mountainous areas near the capital to reach people who would not otherwise have been able to travel to receive medical care.
One commonality among the Haitians particularly made an impression.
“The people are so resilient,” she said. “I fell in love with them. They’re strong and proud, and they want the same things we all want. They want a better life for their children, and they want their children to get an education.
“They are under a lot of stress, so whenever we saw someone smile, it meant so much. And they did smile, despite what they’re still going through.”
Ingram’s presentation is open to the public. “Haiti After the Quake: A Personal Journey” is 12:25-1:30 p.m. in the Goins Building Auditorium on the Pellissippi Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The event is sponsored by Pellissippi State’s Liberal Arts Department.
For additional information, call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or email@example.com.